News Release

Irish quality improvement studies demonstrate high reporting standards, RCSI study finds

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Thursday, 5 August: A review by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in collaboration with the HSE National Quality Improvement Team has found that quality improvement (QI) studies in Ireland over a five-year period conformed to high reporting standards and enhanced multiple elements of healthcare quality.

The review showed an increasing trend in the frequency of publication of QI studies in Ireland, with 43 studies published during the period 2015 to 2020.

Key findings from the review published in BMJ Open Quality were that most QI studies were conducted in hospitals and aimed to improve the effectiveness (65%), efficiency (53%), timeliness (47%) and safety (44%) of care. Fewer aimed to improve patient-centredness (30%), value for money (23%) or staff well-being (9%).

The review found that costs and healthcare outcomes were understudied and require increased attention to support better decision-making about resource allocation in healthcare. No study aimed to increase equity.

Dr Siobhán McCarthy, the study’s first author and lecturer at the RCSI Graduate School of Healthcare Management, commented: “The review has, for the first time, profiled the characteristics of QI studies published in Ireland. It is encouraging to see that the studies meet high reporting standards with a focus on internationally recognised elements of healthcare quality. It is also pertinent that the review findings align with current international discussion about the need to promote equity-focussed quality improvement work”.

“It is becoming increasingly acceptable to discuss costs in healthcare and the review points to an existing awareness of costs among QI practitioners in Ireland. Approximately half of studies discussed costs but did not quantify these sufficiently, highlighting the need to provide greater guidance to QI practitioners on performing cost analysis in healthcare. With appropriate educational guidance and resources, this awareness can be fine-tuned to support informative QI cost analyses”. 

The study’s senior author and Director of the RCSI Healthcare Outcomes Research Centre, Prof Jan Sorensen stated that “RCSI is committed to providing the evidence base to support better decision-making about resource allocation in healthcare, and we expect this study will guide healthcare educational institutions, researchers and policy makers to more substantially include consideration of costs and outcomes in QI studies.”

The study “Reporting standards, outcomes and costs of quality improvement studies in Ireland: a scoping review” was commissioned by the HSE. It was conducted by Dr McCarthy of the Graduate School of Healthcare Management, Dr Samira Barbara Jabakhanji (post-doctoral researcher) and Prof Sorensen of the Healthcare Outcomes Research Centre at RCSI, in collaboration with Dr Jennifer Martin and Dr Maureen Flynn of the HSE National Quality Improvement Team.


About RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is a world-leading university for Good Health and Well-being. Ranked second in the world for its contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, it is exclusively focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide.

RCSI is an international not-for-profit university, headquartered in Dublin. It is among the top 250 universities worldwide in the World University Rankings (2021) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. RCSI has been awarded Athena Swan Bronze accreditation for positive gender practice in higher education.

Visit the RCSI MyHealth Expert Directory to find the details of our experts across a range of healthcare issues and concerns. Recognising their responsibility to share their knowledge and discoveries to empower people with information that leads them to better health, these clinicians and researchers are willing to engage with the media in their area of expertise.

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